Jeanie’s thoughts on vampires

I’m so happy to have the great Jeanie Grey guest posting another Vampire Wednesday. She is totally amazing and if you haven’t read Awakening or Awakening 2. . . What are you waiting for?
Without further ado….here’s Jeanie.
I’m so honored and thrilled to be allowed to take over yet another Vampire Wednesday on my friend Mari’s blog. Yay! She’s been doing some great research on vampires here, and I’m still catching up on all the posts. Compared to her, I feel like an amateur. Nonetheless I will try to add something to the conversation.
I’ve been fascinated by vampires–or rather, by vampire literature–since I was a young adult reading Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series, L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries (so different from the TV show that I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it) and Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss.
What drew me most to these stories was–perhaps ironically–the vampires’ humanity. Or rather, the fact that they were complex beings with a sense of morality, beings who were conflicted about their vampirehood (to use a term we coined last week on this blog) rather than mindless, bloodsucking monsters.
Of course, it helped that they were strong, sexy and (usually) rich. It helped that they didn’t have to work for a living and could spend their days–or nights, rather–wandering around in the moonlight, brooding on immortality and being conflicted about stuff without other people expecting them to do anything different. (I *might* have been a moody teenager. Just sayin’.)
Well, okay, there was the whole blood-sucking thing. But in the vampire mythologies I grew up on, getting bitten by a vampire could be an incredibly sexy thing. Better than sex, even. (Not that I or the characters in the books I was reading knew much about sex.)
Which is why it’s interesting to me to hear people talk about vampirism as a metaphor for sexuality. I get that someone putting their mouth on your neck and sucking some of your life force out is an intimate act. I get that there’s a swapping of fluids (even if it’s just saliva for blood). I get that vampires are often portrayed as sexy. But they don’t have to be vampires for that. They don’t have to be super-humanly strong, be able to shapeshift, be immortal or be really rich.
I guess my point is: okay, maybe vampires are about sex. But even if that’s true, I don’t think that’s all they’re about.
When I started writing Awakening I spent some time thinking about my own attraction to vampirism. Why did I buy that ankh in high school, hoping that a vampire would see it and recognize it as a sign that I wanted to become a vampire too? Why was I more sympathetic to the vampires and to the humans attracted to them than I was to the people who were frightened by them?
That’s when I realized that, for me, vampires symbolized safety. Security. A vampire lives outside of the social norms. A vampire is virtually indestructible. And, from what I’d read, a vampire doesn’t have to worry about food or shelter. 
As a vampire I could do pretty much anything I wanted and not care what anyone else thought of me. I wouldn’t have to worry about getting hurt or killed (except perhaps by sunlight or by a vampire hunter). I would be truly, completely free. It would be safe for me to be exactly who I wanted to be, and safe for me to indulge my curiosity about life and the world.
Lilly was created in order to explore this fantasy. She too is attracted to vampirism because she sees it as the epitome of safety. She too longs to be free of the fear that restrains her curiosity about the world.
Which is why it became so important to challenge that assumption in Awakening 2. One of the lessons Lilly is learning–that perhaps we are all learning–is that the solutions to our problems do not lie outside of us. Becoming a vampire is a strategy Lilly uses to meet her need for safety–just as attaching herself to Torren in the first book is a strategy she uses to feel safe.
So when, in the second book, she learns that a serial killer is kidnapping, torturing and murdering vampires, it’s the ultimate blow for her. Here she’d thought she’d hit upon the ultimate solution to her problem–feeling unsafe in the world–only to have that sense of safety ripped away again. So now what? Where does she go from here? Will Lilly ever feel safe again? And if so, how?
That’s one of the things we’ll find out in Awakening 3. 🙂
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3 thoughts on “Jeanie’s thoughts on vampires

  1. B. Patterson says:

    Very interesting that you mentioned feelings of security. My main character in Communion doesn’t want to give in to the new lifestyle until he realizes it would give him the sense of security he’s been without for a long time.

    Oh, and watch the Vampire Diaries. I read the first 3 book by Smith last summer and enjoyed them. And, after saying I wouldn’t, I bought season 1 a few weeks ago. And I’m very impressed. They’re are some differences but I’m liking each of them.

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